Stop the Decibel Damage
Preventive measures. Recognition that these nerve endings were designed for a quieter time, when men hunted with bows and arrows and women washed their clothes in babbling brooks, has inspired preventive efforts that were not even considered a few years back. Neurobiologist Josef Miller from the Kresge Hearing Research Institute at the University of Michigan stresses noise avoidance and when a loud sound environment is unavoidable, earplugs or muffs, which can cut noise by 30 dB or more. These measures have been incorporated into most occupational safety programs and inspired such innovations as quieter hair dryers and volume-limited iPods. Just recently, Apple filed a patent for new software designed to track a headphone user's exposure to loud music and automatically reduce volume as needed. On the horizon is a nutrient bar to fight off ear damage, says Miller. He and others have shown that a combination of the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E and magnesium not only protects the inner ear when taken before noise exposure but can limit damage for up to 72 hours after the insult. As Miller points out, this approach would add to current ear-protection devices or help those who can't or won't wear earplugs or muffs.
Don't I know. I pleaded with my girls to use earplugs during last week's festivities. But the rocking music on the Mall and the loud display of fireworks just drowned me out. I will keep trying.